The European Commission praised Turkey’s efforts to work for peace in the Caucasus and its attempt to mediate the Israel-Syrian dispute, but it also raised questions about lack of progress in dealing with issues such as gender equality, enforcing civilian control over the military and ending corruption. Oli Rehn of the EU Enlargement Commission, made clear, “I expect Turkey to re-energize its reform efforts.” He also made clear the EU wants Turkey to work to end the current division of Cyprus and to carry out a program of political reform. The Commission acknowledged the current slow down stemmed from a decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to ban women wearing the headscarf in universities and threats to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party because of its deep religious roots.
A concern of the EU is the role played by Turkey’s army which regards itself as the defender of secularism and the role of the judiciary which also assumes a role of protecting secular rights. On one hand, Turkish secular supporters want to enter the EU, but on the other hand, institutions which defend secular rights in Turkey go against EU equal rights. EU leaders worry about the polarization within Turkey because of inability to resolve secular and religious goals.